PARENTS of children at private schools say they are not as interested in school performance tables as the Federal Government claims they are.
The parents are more interested in the happiness, safety and social development of their children, says a position statement being drafted by the Australian Parents Council, a national federation of organisations representing parents of non-government school students. The council's executive director, Ian Dalton, said parents ranked happiness and safety way ahead of student results in public tests.
''Schools and teachers do need to be accountable for their performance in respect to supporting parents. From our point of view, governments and parents are looking at this from a different point of view.''
''For most parents, academic performance ranks below many other priorities. This is something the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority needs to get its head around.''
The Australian Parents Council has surveyed parents and found they generally rank school performance criteria in order of priority as follows:
* The happiness and safety of students.
* That the school is clear about its objectives and operates consistently in ways that reflect its stated mission.
* Whether the school and its teachers encourage a culture of partnership with parents.
* The kind of people the stu- dents generally turn out to be.
* How well the principal and teachers seem to know students.
* The academic qualifications of teaching staff.
* Behaviour management.
* Participation of teaching staff in professional development.
* The atmosphere or “feel” of the school.
* Students' results in public tests or exams.
* The school's reputation in the community.
* Students' sporting or artistic achievements.
The draft position paper says the reporting of school performance ''must be driven by data that respect the sensitive interactions between home, school and the community''.
Mr Dalton said the Australian Parents Council did not oppose the publication of school league tables that identified underperforming schools.
''They may need to be viewed as collateral damage. If governments use the data they collect for the correct purpose to identify areas of particular need and direct resources into the schools needing additional support, the ability of league tables to do harm would be diminished.''
Mr Dalton said his organisation would oppose a focus of government funding on lifting the results of students performing below national benchmarks.
Students achieving results at and above national benchmarks should not be overlooked.
''If you put the majority of resources into bringing kids not meeting benchmarks up to the benchmarks, this could neglect the students at the top and in the middle,'' he said.
The council draft paper says reporting of school performance must help all students to achieve the best possible personal, social and academic outcomes from their schooling.
It also says reporting outcomes must be published in ways that ''minimise opportunities for misinformed or mischievous interpretations to be presented to the community''.
A FORMER teacher at Knox Grammar School who admits a sex offence against a student lured the boy to a deserted storeroom with the promise of a cigarette.The incident was detailed in papers tendered to Hornsby Local Court, where the case of Damien Piers Vance was yesterday adjourned for sentencing. Vance, 55, is one of five former teachers charged over alleged sexual abuse of students at the Wahroonga school.Vance has pleaded guilty to inciting the boy – who was 14 at the time and cannot be named for legal reasons – to an act of indecency in 1987.According to a prosecution submission, the student was alone with Vance in a staff room when he accepted the offer of a cigarette, thinking it would be ”cool” to smoke with a teacher.But Vance ”wanted to go somewhere where they would not be found out”.He took the boy to the Q Store underneath the Knox chapel, where equipment for the school cadets was kept, closing the door so they were ”in pitch black”. After handing him a cigarette, Vance asked him explicit questions – including whether he masturbated.The boy ”felt threatened and scared”, the prosecution submission states.”I knew I was in trouble and had a serious issue on my hands,” he later told police.The student fled ”in terror” to another room, holding the door shut as Vance followed. The teacher smoked another cigarette outside before leaving the boy. Thinking he would not be believed, the frightened boy did not report the incident at the time.Vance is no longer employed at Melbourne’s Taylors College, where he was teaching when he was arrested in April. He faces sentencing on September 30. Bail conditions ban him from approaching any schools. Four other teachers – Craig Treloar, 49, Barrie Tiffin Stewart, 71, Adrian John Nisbett, 59, and Roger Warren James, 66 – have been charged with sex offences against former Knox students dating back to the 1970s.Mr James has pleaded not guilty to the charges. The other teachers have not entered a plea.
THE Federal Government was criticised yesterday for increasing funding for Exclusive Brethren schools to an estimated $62 million over the next four years.
The Government has chosen to continue with the previous government's controversial funding formula for private schools, which will deliver an additional $24.6 million to the Brethren schools over the next four-year funding cycle, according to budget projections.
Recurrent funding for the M.E.T School in Meadowbank will increase from $16.1 million over four years to an estimated $27 million for the next four-year cycle.
A NSW Greens MP, John Kaye, said the Federal Government would provide $26.2 billion in taxpayer dollars to private schools between 2009 to 2012 ''without questioning the quality of education or the type of behaviours they support''.
''In August 2007 Prime Minister Kevin Rudd referred to the Exclusive Brethren as an extremist cult and sect,'' Dr Kaye said.
''In 2008 his government continued the Howard years funding system, resulting in the Exclusive Brethren schools receiving almost $62 million dollars in recurrent funding for the years 2009 to 2012, up from $37.4 million for 2005 to 2008.
“Mr Rudd has either had a spectacular change of opinion on the Brethren or he is guilty of funding schools that he thinks support a cult and do not deliver modern education.''
A spokeswoman for the M.E.T school in NSW, Jacqui Van de Velde-Gilbert, said the school's enrolments had increased.
She said the school had received a letter from the Federal Government saying it would continue to fund the school using its formula for measuring the socio-economic status of the community.
''Our funding is derived in the same way as any other school's is derived,'' she said.
''We have always made it very open to any government scrutiny.''
A spokeswoman for the Minister for Education, Julia Gillard, said the projected increase in funding for the Brethren schools was consistent with the Government's election commitment to maintain the SES funding arrangements through 2009 to 2012.
''These arrangements will be reviewed in an open and transparent process as promised, commencing in 2010.''
Final entitlements for this year will be confirmed after the next census, due in about October.
GOLD COAST UNITED coach Miron Bleiberg says he won’t stand in the way of marquee star Jason Culina choosing country over club next month, but has questioned the A-League’s scheduling of fixtures on a FIFA-designated weekend.
Culina, again a standout in Gold Coast’s 5-0 romp over North Queensland Fury at Skilled Park on Saturday, is certain to be recalled to the Socceroos squad for the friendly against South Korea in Seoul on September 5 – the night Gold Coast host Sydney FC.
Culina’s return from Europe in his prime has raised speculation about the impact it will have on his international career, and Socceroos coach Pim Verbeek has made no secret of his failed attempts to talk him out of the move.
Culina stuck to his guns, partly encouraging other World Cup hopefuls Chris Coyne, Jacob Burns, Mile Sterjovski and Shane Stefanutto to follow suit. Verbeek chose not to select A-League players for last week’s impressive win in Ireland – officially because of the travel – but it will be a massive surprise if he omits Culina from the match in Seoul.
Culina, a key member of Australia’s first-choice side, has demonstrated in just two A-League games how determined he is to make sure his standards don’t slip, and Bleiberg accepts he is likely to lose the midfielder for the Sydney clash.
”Of course I would like him to stay but I know how important the Socceroos are to Jason, and it’s important he is happy with his decision to come back to the A-League,” Bleiberg said. ”So we will let him go and wish him luck. My only complaint is why we are having games on a FIFA weekend. There are only 27 rounds in the season, and surely it wouldn’t have been that hard to put in a break.”
Gold Coast, already genuine title contenders just a week into their debut season, have another star tussling with a country-versus-club dilemma. New Zealand international Shane Smeltz, who scored a career-best four goals against the Fury, will miss the Brisbane Roar derby on October 11 as the All Whites play their first leg of their World Cup play-off in the Middle East.
Smeltz said the play-offs – the most crucial games for the All Whites in 18 years – were in the back of his mind, but he was trying to making sure he doesn’t lose focus in the meantime.
”I’m trying not to think about them too much, but they’re there, definitely,” he said. ”I’m just going to focus on the week-to-week, keep myself fit, and if I do that those games will come up pretty quickly.”
Smeltz said his four against Fury was a career highlight, but in an ominous warning believed United had plenty of room for improvement.
”I’ve only got doubles before, so it’s fantastic to score four, it’s a pretty special night for me,” he said. ”But I can’t pay my teammates enough credit … When we’re on song like that we’re going to hurt teams. It’s been a good start to the season.”
Gold Coast are talking to Socceroos defender Michael Beauchamp, who is out of favour at Danish club Aalborg, after the departure of defensive midfielder Adam Griffiths to five-time Saudi Arabian champions Al Shabab last week.
UNIVERSITIES have warned they will have to cut campus services or divert money from teaching and research after a bill to allow them to charge student amenities fees failed, blowing multimillion-dollar holes in their budgets.
The Family First senator, Steve Fielding, teamed with the leader of the Nationals in the Senate, Barnaby Joyce, and other Coalition senators this week to defeat the bill, which would have allowed universities to levy students compulsory fees of up to $250 a year to pay for sporting facilities, childcare, counselling and other non-academic services.
The vice-chancellor of the University of NSW, Fred Hilmer, said it would have to find a way to maintain crucial services.
''This is very disappointing. We were counting on this money being available from 2010. This punches a $5 million hole in our budget,'' Professor Hilmer said.
Richard Torbay, chancellor of the University of New England, where Senator Joyce studied, said rural communities would be hurt most. ''He and the National Party have got some explaining to do,'' said Dr Torbay, who is also an independent member of the NSW Parliament.
The vice-chancellor of the University of Sydney, Michael Spence, said the bill's defeat was ''a major blow which will have a devastating impact on students.
''Unfortunately the opponents of the bill have been extremely short-sighted and they are hurting the very people they profess to support,'' Dr Spence said.
The Government's proposals aimed to restore services lost from campuses after the Howard government outlawed compulsory student union fees in 2005, stripping an estimated $170 million a year from student services budgets nationally.
At the time Senator Joyce crossed the floor to vote against the laws because of his concern for regional campuses. He had hinted he might support Labor's changes but joined his Liberal colleagues to oppose them.
On Monday he and his fellow Nationals senators Fiona Nash and John Williams proposed an amendment that would have allowed universities to charge a smaller fee – for sporting facilities only – but this was rejected by Labor and the Liberals.
Senator Fielding, who voted with the Coalition in 2005 to pass the laws abolishing the fees, said Labor's bill was ''a tax on the poor'' and he could not support placing an extra burden on students who were already struggling to make ends meet.
Greens senators and the independent senator Nick Xenophon supported the bill.
The global financial crisis has slashed the value of investment portfolios at many universities, reducing their capacity to prop up services. The University of Sydney's investments declined in value by $211 million last year.
ONCE John Daly was signed to play this year’s Australian PGA championship at Coolum a couple of weeks ago, it was inevitable he would also play the Australian Open in Sydney in the week before the PGA – and that was confirmed yesterday.
After all, the promoter of both tournaments is Melbourne’s Tony Roosenburg, who is Daly’s best friend in Australia and has always stood by the flawed player, though there have been a few stern words along the way.
”It’s lovely to have him on board again,” Roosenburg said yesterday. ”John loves this country and he’s now having a go at life again. He realises he is on his last chance in golf [generally, not just here in Australia] and he’s making every effort.
”He’s had the lap-band surgery [losing 36 kilograms] and he has a new girlfriend. He played really well in the middle of the year but his last couple of rounds haven’t been that great.”
Roosenburg said negotiations for Daly to play the Open took ”five minutes”. No scar remains from last year’s Open at Royal Sydney where, in the first round, he smashed a spectator’s camera who he claimed had been ”in his face” throughout the round.
”No, that’s not a problem,” Roosenburg said. ”His biggest disappointment last year in Australia was that he missed the cuts in all three tournaments (the Masters, PGA and Open). He wants to do better and he’s in a much better frame of mind now than he was here last year.”
The Open is being played at the NSW club from December 3-6 and it is the first time our national Open has been played at picturesque linksland on the headland at La Perouse.
In a prepared statement issued by Golf Australia yesterday, Daly said: ”I’m looking forward to returning to play the 2009 Australian Open and am particularly excited about playing the course at La Perouse for the first time. I’ve heard so many great things about the course.”
Daly joins Greg Norman, a five-time winner of his national Open, former US Open champion Geoff Ogilvy, Adam Scott, Stuart Appleby and Mathew Goggin, who lost the play-off to South African Tim Clark at Royal Sydney last December, as the announced star players for this year’s championship.
Clark has not yet committed to defend. He apparently is waiting to see if he is in the exclusive field for the lucrative Nedbank Challenge at Sun City in his homeland, which is being played in the same week.
Daly, the 1991 US PGA and 1995 British Open champion played here last year shortly after he had been suspended for six months by the US PGA Tour, which considered it was poor form that the then big bloke was found in what appeared to be an intoxicated state outside a Hooters restaurant by police who then locked him up for the night.
His world ranking is 435 but, without question, he remains one of the biggest drawcards in golf. Since his suspension, he has played five events on the US Tour with a best finish of tied 27th in the British Open, which is regarded as both a European and US tournament.
In Europe, he has played nine events with a best finish of tied second in the Italian Open.
LONDON: International foes became allies again as Socceroos striker Scott McDonald and the Republic of Ireland’s Aiden McGeady fired Celtic to a convincing 3-1 victory over Aberdeen in their Scottish Premier League opener on Saturday.
And in Turkey, Australia’s Harry Kewell scored twice from the penalty spot to help Galatasaray to a 4-1 league win over Denizlispor.
McGeady’s brace and McDonald’s strike just before the break gave the Bhoys a comfortable lead before Dons midfielder Sone Aluko pulled back a consolation for the hosts just before the hour. McDonald and McGeady had faced off in Wednesday’s friendly in Limerick, won 3-0 by Australia.
McGeady broke through in the 28th minute when he bundled the ball over the line after Marc-Antoine Fortune’s shot was blocked by Langfield.
Three minutes from the break, McGeady curled home a shot from 20 metres after latching on to an Andreas Hinkel pass. McDonald extended the lead in the 44th minute after Richard Foster failed to clear a Fortune cross, the Australian slamming the ball into the corner from 10m.
In Istanbul, Kewell slotted home his first penalty on the stroke of half-time after the visitors had gone 1-0 up through Emil Angelov. Arda Turan scored again for Galatasaray after the break, followed by Kewell on 67 minutes.
In the English Premier League’s opening round, Australian Tim Cahill’s Everton were thumped 6-1 by Arsenal, Chelsea beat Hull 2-1, and Manchester City won 2-0 away to Blackburn. Stoke defeated Burnley 2-0, Fulham beat Portsmouth 1-0, Sunderland scored a 1-0 win at Bolton and West Ham beat last season’s Championship winners Wolves 2-0, the same scoreline that gave Wigan victory at Aston Villa.
A GENERAL practitioner who failed to provide a urine drug test because his wife was in labour could become the first doctor to be struck off the state’s medical register under new legislation.The Medical Tribunal will today decide whether Dr Jason Jefferson Martin breached a critical compliance order – the penalty is automatic deregistration – by failing to attend the test on July 29.Dr Martin had been ordered to undergo urine drug testing three times a week as a condition of his continuing practice. It was one of several conditions first imposed in 2004, after he admitted an addiction to codeine.He breached some of those conditions and in March the tribunal imposed further conditions on his registration – including making his regular drug tests a critical compliance order.The orders were introduced to protect the public, allowing authorities to deal swiftly and effectively with complaints about medical practitioners, after concerns were raised about the cases of doctors Graeme Reeves and Suman Sood.Contravening such an order results in mandatory suspension and deregistration. It is the first time the tribunal has been asked to determine a breach.Barrister Gail Furness, for the Medical Board, argued that Dr Martin breached the condition by not attending the test and then taking nine days to notify the board, instead of alerting them immediately.Counsel for Dr Martin, Stephen Barnes, told the tribunal his client did not attend for testing on July 29 because his wife went into labour with medical complications and asked that the circumstances be taken into account.His failure to attend was ”fairly unusual and understandable in human experience”, Mr Barnes said.”It does seem to be extreme that the penalty the doctor suffers, having missed the test in these circumstances, is deregistration.”However, tribunal member Judge Ann Ainslie-Wallace said flexibility had been deliberately removed from the legislation. Dr Martin’s case was not of the same ”extreme” order as those of doctors Reeves and Sood but ”the stakes for him were high”.The tribunal will hand down its decision today.
GOLDEN SLIPPER winner Phelan Ready is out to break a two-decade hoodoo in Saturday’s Premiere Stakes at Rosehill.
The Jason McLachlan-trained Queenslander, which also won the Magic Millions last season, is out to become the first three-year-old since Integra in 1990 to win the Premiere.
”As I said after riding him in the trial last Friday, I think he’ll definitely make it back as a three-year-old,” Phelan Ready’s stand-in jockey, Chris Munce, said on Thursday.
”He won the trial easily and gave me a good feel. I know there are some quality and proven horses lining up on Saturday but my horse only has 51½ kilograms and has drawn perfectly in barrier three.”
Rival jockey Corey Brown reunites with Triple Honour, which is returning from a spell. Last year Triple Honour returned from its Doncaster win to claim the Premiere with Glen Boss in the saddle.
Brown rode the Chris Waller-trained Triple Honour when fourth in a barrier trial at Rosehill last Tuesday week.
”He felt a little flat in the trial but Chris said to me he livens right up with the blinkers on and he didn’t have them on in the trial,” Brown said.
”If he can pull out the Doncaster-type form he is going to be right in the race.”
Others of Phelan Ready’s age in the Premiere are More Than Great, which is also an acceptor for the Run To The Rose, and Victorian visitor Porsched.
Brown, who is yet to win the Premiere, has no doubt Phelan Ready is the testing material.
”He did look good at the trials, he dropped a couple of smart horses pretty easily,” Brown said.
”He gets into the Premiere with no weight on his back and is the one to beat.”
Brown is also looking forward to partnering Run To The Rose contender Hus Der Lieften.
”I haven’t been on him in a race or trial but I’ve worked alongside him,” Brown said. ”He looks a nice three-year-old in the making, I’m more than happy to be on board a horse like him.”
Brown takes over on Hus Der Lieften from Nash Rawiller, who is out to make it back-to-back wins on More Than Great.
A SYDNEY man who negotiated with a Chinese man armed with explosives while he held an Australian woman hostage during a bus hijack in the ancient capital of Xi'an has been awarded a Bravery Medal by the Governor-General Quentin Bryce.
In March last year Xinkang Wang was a tour guide for 10 Australians when the hijacker struck in the tourist destination best known as the home of the terracotta warriors.
The hijack received much international media coverage as part of security concerns before the Beijing Olympics.
Mr Wang negotiated the release of nine Australians but refused to desert the remaining Australian woman and stayed, attempting to calm the hijacker.
The man had lost his job in an aerospace factory and Chinese police shot him dead when the bus stopped at an airport toll booth.
Mr Wang is among 62 Australians named as bravery-decoration recipients today.
''We are privileged to have such role models in our society,'' Ms Bryce said.
''It is an honour to recognise their selfless acts of bravery, and thank them for their brave actions, both in Australia and overseas.''
The Star of Courage was awarded to a West Australian woman who went into the water to rescue a man attacked by a shark and pulled him to safety at her home beach of Albany in May last year.
A commendations for brave conduct was awarded to Mary Crawford of Dubbo, who had dragged a pilot from his crashed crop duster in May 2005 near Coonamble.
Shawn Thornton of Wooli, on the North Coast, received a commendation for brave conduct for pulling a man from rough waters after he had been thrown from his fishing boat in the local river in December 2006.